Rachael is doing a Duke of Edinburgh Hillary award. Bronze level. It involved a hike through the forest last week, involving crossing the same river three times and climbing the same hill twice. She then went off sick for four days with a sore throat and no voice. It was quiet. She'll be walking the Pinnacles next month. That's the mountains I nearly did my legs in going up earlier in the year. Of course, she'll be doing it in winter, with a full pack! And this is just bronze level. Silver and Gold involve some real mountains in the south island.

Sarah's moved up a group in swimming. She's getting really good; she's much faster than me now. She just had to learn butterfly in order to move up. Partly, it's because she's scared of whacking someone in front or hitting the end; she tends to keep stopping to look! Rachael's always struggled with swimming, and her teacher has gone overseas for a few months, so she's given up for now. But at least she knows what to do if she falls in. That's the main thing. It's a big issue here because much of the activities revolve around water. That and sunscreen!

Bronwyn's been organising music groups to visit the local old peoples' homes. We used to have a group going from our church, but several people left, so it was down to one person. She's been organising the other churches and forming up teams, and trying to get everyone working together. Meanwhile, she's also started playing flute occasionally on Sunday mornings. This means that things have got a little chaotic. We have to sort out who's going where and whether it's feasible to simultaneously get Sarah to swimming / Guides / Drama. So far it's been OK, but we've had to occasionally cancel something!

And it's the national brass band contest in four weeks. They've organised a lot of rehearsals on Sunday morning. Fortunately the church is about 300m from the band hall. Next week I'm supposed to be on the church music, so I could do half of each! We're sounding reasonably good, largely because the conductor has rounded up most of the top musicians from the school where he teaches. I think we may be in for a Rangitoto College takeover.

Lambing season soon. Just need one freezing cold storm to kick it off. We need to clear out the old laundry to turn it into a hospital wing. Meanwhile, Chickaboo, who was down to her last few feathers after being plucked almost bare by the others has grown them all back, and now looks in much better shape than the younger two. I've been cautiously letting them mix during the day, but keeping them apart at night. Sarah's planning on getting a couple more chicks. Must finish that second chicken coop...

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